OPINION | Travelling in Auto, Seeking Justice Like Commoner: Why PM Modi’s Niece Deserves Praise for Staying Rooted


Tu jaanta hai main kaun hoon’. ‘Ek minute baat karo’. ‘Ye (falaana) hamare ye lagte hain’. Something tells me that almost all those reading this have either heard something similar or used something similar at some point in their lives. It is very easy to do that. The feeling of being in a position of power or knowing someone in a position of power is a great aphrodisiac. Sadly, in our country, this is an accepted norm. One has to know someone who knows someone who will call someone. Name dropping comes as second nature.

On Saturday, a lady walked into a police station in Delhi and filed a complaint of bag snatching. She listed out items in her bag and was also able to identify the bike-borne criminals later. Good, quick action by the Delhi Police and kudos to them for helping a person in distress.

Snatching of chain/bag/purse is a growing menace in the national capital ahead of the festive season and the crackdown against these crimes has also intensified. The incident happened when this lady was getting off an auto rickshaw outside the Gujarati Samaj in the Civil Lines area at about 7am on Saturday.

The person in question is Damayanti Ben. So what’s the big deal about this? Now let us add the surname Modi to it and let me further say that she is the daughter of Prahlad Modi. Toh kya bhai? Prahlad Modi is the brother of Narendra Damodardas Modi, the Prime Minister of India. The most powerful man in the country and arguably one of the most powerful and influential leaders in the world today.

For a very long time, the cops did not know that Damayanti Ben was prime minister’s niece. Ab zara socho agar Damayanti ji ki jagah mein ya aap hotey… Had it been me or you… what would our first act have been? Would we have been travelling by auto and staying at a Gujrati Samaj? Would we have gone to the police station or expected the cops to come to us? Would we have said ‘Tu jaanta hai main kaun hoon? ’ That, my friends, is the reason why I pen this piece.

This is an ode to the family of PM Modi for staying rooted and living their lives away from his shadow and his office. This is respect for the prime minister for steadfastly following the principle of ‘no dynasty’ or parivarvaad and walking the talk on anti-VIP culture. Bahut mushkil hai ye karna. Peter Parker’s uncle (in the movie Spiderman) was right when he said, ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility’. With this power, too, comes the challenge of remaining rooted. For never forgetting that one is not going to have this forever. For a nation to follow its leader and respond to his call, the leader has to lead by example.

From sweeping the aangan of the PMO, the crumbling walls of his mother’s house to the plogging walk on the beaches of Tamil Nadu and the Damayanti Ben episode, the PM and his family have endeavored to walk the talk. His outfits change and are suited for the occasion as he represents the identity of India but the watch on his wrist has been the same from his first day in office if not earlier.

He is as comfortable travelling in a metro as he is in the front seat of a Scorpio or the plush recliner of Air India One. As someone who grew up travelling in second class sleeper, BEST buses and Mumbai suburban, I know how tough it is to go back to doing the same once life moves on to greater luxuries. It is very tough to not let the power get to you, and tougher to stop your near and dear ones from using/abusing it for their personal gains. For long that has been the political and social culture in India. The PM and his family are swimming against the tide. Can we as a people change our strokes?